Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Annual Bergen Audubon Eagle Count Tallies 95 Bald Eagles!

From the Oradell Reservoir to DeKorte Park, from Frank M. Chapman Trail  to River Barge Park, from Mehrhof Pond to Overpeck County Park and everywhere along the Hackensack River and in-between our Bald Eagles displayed their dramatic comeback to all who had the foresight and willingness to just look up.

Bergen County Audubon Society volunteers braved the cold and wind this past Saturday to conduct the second annual Lower Hackensack River Eagle Count which produced an amazing count of 95 Bald Eagles. More Eagles than we have ever seen graced the trees and waterways along this densely populated but highly environmentally sensitive area.

The survey was started last year to help us learn how we might better protect and preserve this amazing raptor

Jimmy Macaluso, who counted at Overpeck County Park said, “To think that just a little more than a decade ago the sight of a Bald Eagle in Bergen County was astonishing to say the least. Yet on Saturday the dedicated members of BCAS counted nearly 100 of these majestic birds which just goes to show what can be accomplished by regular citizens who care about the environment”    

 Liana Marie Romano also braved the cold and wind to count at Mehrhof Pond in Little Ferry. She said:  “Nature wins! To find 12 Bald Eagles in a suburban area thriving is testament to how conservancy and environmental protection laws simply work. I had a great time observing and being part of the count!”

Tammy Laverty had a very special day at McGowan Park: “When I agreed to help count Eagles on Saturday for Bergen Audubon I was hoping I would see at least see one bird to report. But, WOW, I was absolutely thrilled to start my morning seeing 11, yes 11, Bald Eagles in the trees across the creek! As I stayed a while watching some fly off, my finger, toes, and nose were frozen, but so was the great big smile on my face.”

 Holly Cowen stood up to the elements at Chapman Trail/New Bridge Landing and counted 10 eagles. Holly said: “I arrived at New Bridge Landing a little after 9 a.m. As soon as I looked out I saw an eagle sitting in the trees. A little bit later I saw some juveniles fly over and one even caught a fish. Right before I left around noon I had two adults flying over the Stueben House. What a great morning.”

 Laura DeFlora Covered Oradell reservoir for BCAS. She stated: “My husband and I loved being part of the Eagle Count as “citizen scientists.”  We had fun and hope to do it again next year. It’s amazing how many Eagles there are so close to our house!” 

Dee DeSantis and Linda Antenucci

The return of the Bald Eagle is a story that began more than 40 years ago with the outlawing of DDT, the passing of groundbreaking legislation such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and our many government agencies working together to do the right thing, something we have almost forgotten about.

 As a child growing up in the Meadowlands I use to dream of what it might be like to see an Eagle soar overhead, catch fish in the river and nest high up in the trees Now I no longer need to imagine or wait for some abstract miracle. Our Eagles are back with the strength and magnificence that only an Eagle can display.

Now the challenge for all of us will be to make sure the Eagles battle to return was not in vain and that we all continue to work together to preserve and protect wildlife habitat, keep our water clean and imagine what is possible if we work together to do the right thing  for our environment. We helped the Bald Eagle to come back from the brink of extinction. Now we need to make sure that future generations will not have to imagine what seeing an eagle might be like so that they will witness its magic every day and forever.

10 thoughts on “Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Annual Bergen Audubon Eagle Count Tallies 95 Bald Eagles!

  1. Darlene De Santis

    We had an awesome day at Bell Dr. where our amazing eagles Al and Alice ll reside. At one point we had 12 eagles perched along the Overpeck Creek. Lots of activity with them flying, catching and dropping fish. It was an honor to be part of this iconic day!

  2. Tammy L

    A great way to enjoy the Eagles AND help to protect them. So glad you organized such an important event and an honor for me do a little bit to help.

  3. Adaria Armstrong

    I moved down to Cumberland County in “down” Jersey about 2 years ago and live on a pond near the Cohansey River. I am please and excited to report that there are a pair of bald eagles that I see daily in the trees not 40 ft from my 2nd floor deck. Osprey, hawks of all shape and size, owls, herons, swans, geese, ducks, woodpeckers, and songbirds too numerous to count ( I did participate in the Christmas count) down here too! It is a birder’s paradise.

    I am overjoyed to hear of the high count of Eagles in my old home county so close to my home town (Leonia). I know how happy I was to see Osprey and Eagles in that area when I lived there. My heart is full knowing they have made such a beautiful comeback despite us humans.

      1. Anil Nerurkar

        Don, thank you for organizing the count. It was wonderful and a great joy to see these amazing birds thriving in the suburban areas around us. Makes me realize how lucky we are and the responsiblity we have to take care of them and our environment.


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